Imagine for a minute that it’s your major league debut, and you’re slated to face the New York freakin’ Yankees, a lineup that features Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, etc. Not to mention there’s all this additional hype and excitement around A-Rod possibly belting home run number 600 against you. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Well, not if you’re not Indians rookie pitcher Josh Tomlin. Tomlin made his ML debut Tuesday night and promptly shut down the Yanks for 7.0 plus innings to pick up the W in a 4-1 victory for Cleveland.

The 19th round pick of the Indians in 2006 went 7.0 plus strong innings, allowing just three hits, one run while striking out two and walking none. Tomlin actually faced the minimum through six innings. Incredible.

I began wondering how many pitchers making their ML debut mowed down the Yankees in the history of the game. Using Baseball Reference’s Play Index, I searched for pitchers who picked up the win against the Yankees and their ML debut with zero or one run allowed. Since 1920, this has occurred 12 times…

Rk Gcar Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit GSc
1 1 Josh Tomlin 2010-07-27 CLE NYY W 4-1 GS-7 ,W 7.0 3 1 1 0 2 0 93 69
2 1 Koji Uehara 2009-04-08 BAL NYY W 7-5 GS-5 ,W 5.0 5 1 1 1 0 0 86 52
3 1 Anibal Sanchez 2006-06-25 (2) FLA NYY W 5-0 GS-6 ,W 5.2 7 0 0 0 2 0 96 57
4 1 Brian Sikorski 2000-08-16 TEX NYY W 5-0 GS-7 ,W 7.0 4 0 0 4 5 0 108 70
5 1 Paul Rigdon 2000-05-21 CLE NYY W 6-1 GS-7 ,W 7.0 2 0 0 4 2 0 92 71
6 1 Jason Dickson 1996-08-21 CAL NYY W 7-1 GS-7 ,W 6.1 10 1 1 2 1 1 48
7 1 Vaughn Eshelman 1995-05-02 BOS NYY W 8-0 GS-6 ,W 6.0 3 0 0 2 1 0 62 65
8 1 Pat Rice 1991-05-18 SEA NYY W 4-1 GS-6 ,W 5.2 2 0 0 0 3 0 75 68
9 1 Billy Rohr 1967-04-14 BOS NYY W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 5 2 0 82
10 1 Luis Tiant 1964-07-19 (2) CLE NYY W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 4 11 0 86
11 1 Charlie Beamon 1956-09-26 BAL NYY W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 7 9 0 81
12 1 Clem Dreisewerd 1944-08-29 (1) BOS NYY W 8-1 9.0 6 1 1 1 2 0 72
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/29/2010.

Koji Uehara of the Orioles was the most recent to accomplish this last season in the second game of 2009 on April 8. Uehara only went 5.0 innings, but still got the win in a 7-5 O’s victory. Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez turned the trick in game 2 of a doubleheader in 2006. Of the 12 games, eight of them occurred since 1991, and of those eight games only two had better game scores than Tomlin’s 69 on Tuesday night.

Also, besides the recent names of Sanchez and Uehara, who are still both active, most of the pitchers on this list only lasted a couple of seasons in the bigs. The exception being Luis Tiant, the only notable name on this list. Tiant won 229 games in 19 major league seasons, was selected to three All-Star teams, and along with Tomlin, also owned the Yankees in his first start while wearing an Indians jersey in 1964. Paul Rigdon also did it with the Indians in 2000. Must be something about those Indians rookies that strike fear into the Yankees.

On the flip side, Mariners pitcher Pat Rice appeared in only seven games at the major league level. His first ever start against the Yankees on May 18, 1991 was his only win of his career. Strangely enough, he suffered his first and only loss in his last ML appearance. Today, Rice is the pitching coach of Triple-A Fresno in the Giants organization.

No matter what road Tomlin’s career heads down, he shook off the nervousness of his first start and will always be down in the books as shutting down the Bronx Bombers.

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